Wage Loss Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In Arizona, if you’ve been injured in an accident due to the fault of another person or entity, then you may have the right to recover a range of damages to cover your losses — generally speaking, this includes lost wages.

When bringing a lawsuit against the defendant, it’s important to remember that damages may vary substantially from plaintiff-to-plaintiff.  Every case is different.  In fact, it is a fundamental principle of law that the defendant be forced to “accept the victim” as “they found them.”  Stated another way, compensatory damages are not capped based on the type of accident that occurred.  If you have significant wage loss damages, you will not be prevented from recovering such damages simply because they seem excessive in comparison to the damages suffered by the average person.

Wage loss recovery is actually rather straightforward to understand.  Let’s explore the basics to get a clearer picture of how it works.

Wage Loss at a Glance

Wage loss damages account for actual losses suffered due to an inability to work (following an injury).  Wage loss damages are somewhat different from lost earning capacity.  For example, if your injury has not resulted in time off from work but has reduced the likelihood that you will be promoted in the future, then you’ll want to claim loss of future earning capacity damages — not wage loss damages.

Wage loss damages must generally be “certain” — they can be estimated, but there must be evidence that reasonably supports the numbers.  This is not typically an issue for past wage loss (where the injured plaintiff should have pay stubs and other evidence of the losses) but is more often an issue for future wage loss.

Damages for Past Wage Loss

Past wage loss refers to those damages directly suffered as a result of having to take time off of work.  For example, if you were forced to take two months off of work due to the injury inflicted by the defendant, then you could claim damages for the amount you were not paid during such time.

Defendants have a difficult time undermining past wage loss claims, but they may attempt to minimize their liabilities by arguing that you did not “have” to take so much time off of work, and that your failure to return to work sooner was unreasonable and constituted a failure to mitigate damages.

Damages for Future Wage Loss

Future wage loss refers to damages that you have not yet suffered at the time of litigation, and naturally involves a higher level of uncertainty.

Suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, and the injuries are so severe that you have been forced to take an indefinite leave of absence from work (until you fully recover).  If you bring a lawsuit against the defendant during this period of “unemployment,” then you will not only have past wage loss damages for the period of time after the accident and up to the litigation.  but you will also have a claim of future wage loss damages for the indefinite period of time after litigation.

Generally speaking, successful claims involving future wage loss damages must be supported by expert testimony, such as that of the treating medical professionals, and industry professionals in your field (who will discuss how your injuries necessarily prevent you from returning to work).

Contact an Experienced Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer for Additional Guidance

If you have suffered an injury in an accident that was caused due to the negligent or wrongful acts of another, Arizona law may entitle you to recover significant damages as compensation for your losses.  Generally speaking, in cases involving severe injury — assuming that you were employed at the time of the accident — you will have wage loss damages to claim as well, due to having to take leave from work in order to physically and mentally recover from your various injuries.

Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have more than 65 years of combined experience, and have represented thousands of clients in a range of injury disputes, helping them to recover the full amount of damages they are owed, which may include wage loss (among other damages).  We are committed to personalized advocacy and believe that our approach leads to significantly better results in litigation.  Clients can also take advantage of our discounted contingency fee — despite the fact that we only get paid if you succeed, our fee is lower than that of competitors.

Call (602) 535-1900 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer today.